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History nigeria

Before the colonial period, the area which comprises modern Nigeria had an eventful history.
More than 2,000 years ago, the Nok culture in the present Plateau state worked iron and
produced sophisticated terra cotta sculpture. In the northern cities of Kano and Katsina,
recorded history dates back to about 1000 AD. In the centuries that followed, these Hausa
kingdoms and the Kanem-Bornu empire near Lake Chad prospered as important terminals of
north-south trade between North African Berbers and forest people who exchanged slaves,
ivory, and kola nuts for salt, glass beads, coral, cloth, weapons, brass rods, and cowrie shells
used as currency.

In the southwest, the Yoruba kingdoms of Ife and Oyo were founded about 1400. Ife reached
its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries, producing the famous, naturalistic terra cotta and
bronze heads associated with Ife. The kingdom of Oyo developed later, and at its height from
the 17th to 19th centuries attained a high level of political organization and extended as far as
modern Togo until civil war between the Yoruba cities reduced its power. In the south central
part of present-day Nigeria, as early as the 15th and 16th centuries, the Kingdom of Benin
had developed an efficient army; an elaborate ceremonial court; and artisans whose works in
ivory, wood, bronze, and brass are prized throughout the world today.
The 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia wrote, "Numerous explorers had long before reconnoitred
the river and the neighbouring country. Among the most famous were Mungo Park (1795-
1805), Clapperton (1822), René Caillé (1825), Lander, Barth, Mage, and the French officers
Galliéni, Mizon, Hourst, and Lenfant. In 1879, on the initiative of Sir George Goldie, the
English societies established in the region purchased all the French and foreign trading
stations of Lower Niger and in 1885 obtained a royal charter which constituted them the Royal
Company of the Niger. The Royal Company developed rapidly and acquired immense
territories, often at the cost of bloodshed."
In the 17th through 19th centuries, European traders established coastal ports for the
increasing traffic in slaves destined for the Americas. Commodity trade, especially in palm oil
and timber, replaced slave trade in the 19th century, particularly under anti-slavery actions by
the British Navy. In the early 19th century the Fulani leader Usman dan Fodio brought most
areas in the north under the loose control of an Islamic Fulani Empire centered on Sokoto.
A British Sphere of Influence
Following the Napoleonic wars, the British expanded trade with the Nigerian interior. In 1885,
British claims to a sphere of influence in that area received international recognition and, in
the following year, the Royal Niger Company was chartered under the leadership of Sir
George Taubman Goldie. In 1900, the company's territory came under the control of the
British Government, which moved to consolidate its hold over the area of modern Nigeria. On
January 1, 1901 Nigeria became a British protectorate.
In 1914, the area was formally united as the "Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria."
Administratively, Nigeria remained divided into the northern and southern provinces and
Lagos colony. Western education and the development of a modern economy proceeded
more rapidly in the south than in the north, with consequences felt in Nigeria's political life
ever since. Following World War II, in response to the growth of Nigerian nationalism and
demands for independence, successive constitutions legislated by the British Government
moved Nigeria toward self-government on a representative, increasingly federal, basis.
Nigeria was granted full independence in October 1960, as a federation of three regions
(northern, western, and eastern) under a constitution that provided for a parliamentary form of
government. Under the constitution, each of the three regions retained a substantial measure
of self-government. The federal government was given exclusive powers in defense and
security, foreign relations, and commercial and fiscal policies. The British Monarch was still
head of state, but legislative power was vested in a bicameral parliament, executive power in
a prime minister and cabinet, and judicial authority in a Federal Supreme Court. Political
parties, however, tended to reflect the make up of the three main ethnic groups. The NPC,
(Nigerian people's Congress), represented conservative, Muslim, largely Hausa interests, and
dominated the Northern Region. The NCNC (National Convention of Nigerian Citizens), was
Igbo and Christian dominated, ruling in the Eastern Region, and the AG (Action Group) was a
left-leaning party that controlled the Yoruba west. The first post-independence National
Government was formed by a conservative alliance of the NCNC and the NPC, with Sir
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a Hausa, becoming Nigeria's first Prime Minister. The Yoruba-
dominated AG became the opposition, under its charismatic leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
The First Republic
In October 1963, Nigeria altered its relationship with the United Kingdom by proclaiming itself
a Federal Republic. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the last Governor General, became the country's first
President. A fourth region (the midwest) was established that year. From the outset, Nigeria's
ethnic, regional, and religious tensions were magnified by the significant disparities in
economic and educational development between the south and the north. The AG was
maneuvered out of control of the Western Region by the Federal Government, and a new,
conservative, pro-government Yoruba party, the NNDP, took control of the region. Shortly
afterward, the AG opposition leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was imprisoned on treason
charges that were later admitted to be without foundation.

The National Election of 1965 produced a major realignment of politics and a disputed result
that set the country on the path to civil war. The dominant northern NPC went into a
conservative alliance with the new Yoruba NNDP, leaving the Igbo NCNC to coalesce with
the remnant of the AG (Action Group) in a progressive alliance. In the vote, widespread
electoral fraud was alleged. There were major riots in the Yoruba West, where heartlands of
the AG discovered that they had apparently elected pro-government NNDP representatives. A
constitutional crisis threatened when President Azikiwe at first refused to accept the election
On January 15, 1966, a small group of army officers, mostly southeastern Igbos, overthrew
the NPC-NNDP government and assassinated the federal prime minister and the premiers of
the northern and western regions. The federal military government that assumed power under
General Aguyi Ironsi, was unable to quiet ethnic tensions or produce a constitution acceptable
to all sections of the country. In fact, its efforts to abolish the federal structure raised tensions
and led to another coup by largely northern officers, in July. This second coup established the
leadership of Major General Yakubu Gowon. The subsequent massacre of thousands of Igbo
in the north prompted hundreds of thousands of them to return to the southeast, where
increasingly strong Igbo secessionist sentiment emerged.
In a move that gave greater autonomy to minority ethnic groups, the military divided the four
regions into 12 states. However the Igbo rejected attempts at constitutional revisions and
insisted on full autonomy for the east. Finally, on May 29, 1967, Lt. Col. Emeka Ojukwu, the
military governor of the eastern region, who emerged as the leader of increasing Igbo
secessionist sentiment, declared the independence of the eastern region as the "Republic of
Biafra." The ensuing Nigerian Civil War was bitter and bloody, ending in the defeat of Biafra in
Following the civil war, reconciliation was rapid and effective, and the country turned to the
task of economic development. Foreign exchange earnings and government revenues
increased spectacularly with the oil price rises of 1973-74. On July 29, 1975, Gen. Murtala
Mohammed and a group of fellow officers staged a bloodless coup, accusing the military
government of Gen. Yakubu Gowon of delaying the promised return to civilian rule and
becoming corrupt and ineffective. General Muhammed replaced thousands of civil servants
and announced a timetable for the resumption of civilian rule by October 1, 1979. Mohammed
also announced the government's intention to create more new states and to construct a new
federal capital Abuja, in the center of the country.
General Muhammed was assassinated on February 13, 1976, in an abortive coup. His chief
of staff, Lt. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, became head of state. Obasanjo adhered meticulously
to the schedule for return to civilian rule, moving to modernize and streamline the armed
forces and seeking to use oil revenues to diversify and develop the country's economy. Seven
new states were created in 1976, bringing the total to 19. The process of creating additional
states continued until, in 1996, there were 36.
The Second Republic
A constituent assembly was elected in 1977 to draft a new constitution, which was published
on September 21, 1978, when the ban on political activity, in effect since the advent of military
rule, was lifted. Political parties were formed, and candidates were nominated for president
and vice president, the two houses of the National Assembly, governorships, and state
houses of assembly. In 1979, five political parties competed in a series of elections in which a
northerner, Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), was elected
president. All five parties won representation in the National Assembly.
In August 1983, Shagari and the NPN were returned to power in a landslide victory, with a
majority of seats in the National Assembly and control of 12 state governments. But the
elections were marred by violence and allegations of widespread vote rigging and electoral
malfeasance led to legal battles over the results.
On December 31, 1983, the military overthrew the Second Republic. Maj. Gen. Muhammadu
Buhari emerged as the leader of the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the country's new ruling
body. He charged the civilian government with economic mismanagement, widespread
corruption, election fraud, and a general lack of concern for the problems of Nigerians. He
also pledged to restore prosperity to Nigeria and to return the government to civilian rule but
proved unable to deal with Nigeria's severe economic problems. The Buhari government was
peacefully overthrown by the SMC's third-ranking member, Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen.
Ibrahim Babangida, in August 1985.
Babangida cited the misuse of power, violations of human rights by key officers of the SMC,
and the government's failure to deal with the country's deepening economic crisis as
justifications for the takeover. During his first few days in office, President Babangida moved
to restore freedom of the press and to release political detainees being held without charge.
As part of a 15-month economic emergency, he announced stringent pay cuts for the military,
police, and civil servants and proceeded to enact similar cuts for the private sector. Imports of
rice, maize, and later wheat were banned. President Babangida demonstrated his intent to
encourage public participation in government decisionmaking by opening a national debate
on proposed economic reform and recovery measures. The public response convinced
Babangida of intense opposition to an economic recovery package dependent on an
International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.
The Abortive Third Republic
President Babangida promised to return the country to civilian rule by 1990; this date was
later extended until January 1993. In early 1989, a constituent assembly completed work on a
constitution for the Third Republic. In the spring of 1989, political activity was again permitted.
In October 1989 the government established two "grassroots" parties: the National
Republican Convention (NRC), which was to be "a little to the right," and the Social
Democratic (SDP), "a little to the left." Other parties were not allowed to register by the
Babangida government.
In April 1990, mid-level officers attempted to overthrow the Babangida government. The coup
failed, and 69 accused coup plotters were later executed after secret trials before military
tribunals. The transition resumed after the failed coup. In December 1990 the first stage of
partisan elections was held at the local government level. While turnout was low, there was
no violence, and both parties demonstrated strength in all regions of the country, with the
SDP winning control of a majority of local government councils.
In December 1991, gubernatorial and state legislative elections were held throughout the
country. Babangida decreed in December 1991 that previously banned politicians would be
allowed to contest in primaries scheduled for August 1992. These were canceled due to fraud
and subsequent primaries scheduled for September also were canceled. All announced
candidates were disqualified from again standing for president once a new election format
was selected. The presidential election was finally held on June 12, 1993, with the
inauguration of the new president scheduled to take place August 27, 1993, the eighth
anniversary of President Babangida's coming to power.
In the historic June 12, 1993 presidential elections, which most observers deemed to be
Nigeria's fairest, early returns indicated that wealthy Yoruba businessman M.K.O. Abiola had
won a decisive victory. However, on June 23, Babangida, using several pending lawsuits as a
pretense, annulled the election, throwing Nigeria into turmoil. More than 100 persons were
killed in riots before Babangida agreed to hand power to an "interim government" on August
27, 1993. Babangida then attempted to renege on his decision. Without popular and military
support, he was forced to hand over to Ernest Shonekan, a prominent nonpartisan
businessman. Shonekan was to rule until new elections, scheduled for February 1994.
Although he had led Babangida's Transitional Council since early 1993, Shonekan was
unable to reverse Nigeria's ever-growing economic problems or to defuse lingering political
With the country sliding into chaos, Defense Minister Sani Abacha quickly assumed power
and forced Shonekan's "resignation" on November 17, 1993. Abacha dissolved all democratic
political institutions and replaced elected governors with military officers. Abacha promised to
return the government to civilian rule but refused to announce a timetable until his October 1,
1995 Independence Day address.
Following the annulment of the June 12 election, the United States and other nations imposed
various sanctions on Nigeria, including restrictions on travel by government officials and their
families and suspension of arms sales and military assistance. Additional sanctions were
imposed as a result of Nigeria's failure to gain full certification for its counter-narcotics efforts.
In addition, direct flights between Nigeria and the United States were suspended on August
11, 1993, when the Secretary of Transportation determined that Lagos' Murtala Mohammed
International Airport did not meet the security standards established by the FAA. The FAA in
December 1999 certified security at MMIA, opening the way for operation of direct flights
between Lagos and U.S. airports.
Although Abacha's takeover was initially welcomed by many Nigerians, disenchantment grew
rapidly. A number of opposition figures united to form a new organization, the National
Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which campaigned for an immediate return to civilian rule.
The government arrested NADECO members who attempted to reconvene the Senate and
other disbanded democratic institutions. Most Nigerians boycotted the elections held from
May 23-28, 1994, for delegates to the government-sponsored Constitutional Conference.
On June 11, 1994, using the groundwork laid by NADECO, Abiola declared himself president
and went into hiding. He reemerged and was promptly arrested on June 23. With Abiola in
prison and tempers rising, Abacha convened the Constitutional Conference June 27, but it
almost immediately went into recess and did not reconvene until July 11, 1994.
On July 4, a petroleum workers union called a strike demanding that Abacha release Abiola
and hand over power to him. Other unions then joined the strike, which brought economic life
in around Lagos area and in much of the southwest to a standstill. After calling off a
threatened general strike in July, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) reconsidered a general
strike in August, after the government imposed "conditions" on Abiola's release. On August
17, 1994, the government dismissed the leadership of the NLC and the petroleum unions,
placed the unions under appointed administrators, and arrested Frank Kokori and other labor
leaders. Although striking unions returned to work, the government arrested opponents,
closed media houses, and moved strongly to curb dissent.
The government alleged in early 1995 that some 40 military officers and civilians were
engaged in a coup plot. Security officers quickly rounded up the accused, including former
Head of State Obasanjo and his erstwhile deputy, retired Gen. Shehu Musa Yar'Adua. After a
secret tribunal, most of the accused were convicted, and several death sentences were
handed down. The tribunal also charged, convicted, and sentenced prominent human rights
activists, journalists, and others-- including relatives of the coup suspects--for their alleged
"anti-regime" activities. In October, the government announced that the Provisional Ruling
Council (PRC--see below: Abubakar's Transition to Civilian Rule) and Abacha had approved
final sentences for those convicted of participation in the coup plot.
In late 1994 the government set up the Ogoni Civil Disturbances Special Tribunal to try
prominent author and Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and others for their alleged roles in the
killings of four prominent Ogoni politicians in May 1994. Saro-Wiwa and 14 others pleaded not
guilty to charges that they procured and counseled others to murder the politicians. On
October 31, 1995, the tribunal sentenced Saro-Wiwa and eight others to death by hanging. In
early November Abacha and the PRC confirmed the death sentence. Saro-Wiwa and his
eight co-defendants were executed on November 10.
In an October 1, 1995 address to the nation, Gen. Sani Abacha announced the timetable for a
3-year transition to civilian rule. Only five of the political parties which applied for registration
were approved by the regime. In local elections held in December 1997, turnout was under
10%. By the April 1998 state assembly and gubernatorial elections, all five of the approved
parties had nominated Abacha as their presidential candidate in controversial party
conventions. Public reaction to this development in the transition program was apathy and a
near-complete boycott of the elections.
On December 21, 1997, the government announced the arrest of the country's second
highest-ranking military officer, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, 10 other officers,
and eight civilians on charges of coup plotting. Subsequently, the government arrested a
number of additional persons for roles in the purported coup plot and tried the accused before
a closed-door military tribunal in April in which Diya and eight others were sentenced to death.
During the Abacha regime, the government continued to enforce its arbitrary authority through
the federal security system--the military, the state security service, and the courts. Under
Abacha, all branches of the security forces committed serious human rights abuses. After
Abubakar's assumption of power and consolidation of support within the PRC, human rights
abuses decreased. Other human rights problems included infringements on freedom of
speech, press, assembly, association, and travel; violence and discrimination against women;
and female genital mutilation.
Worker rights suffered as the government continued to interfere with organized labor by
restricting the fundamental rights of association and the independence of the labor
movement. After it came to power in June 1998, the Abubakar government took several
important steps toward restoring worker rights and freedom of association for trade unions,
which had deteriorated seriously between 1993 and June 1998 under the Abacha regime.
The Abubakar government released two imprisoned leaders of the petroleum sector unions,
Frank Kokori and Milton Dabibi; abolished two decrees that had removed elected leadership
from the Nigeria Labour Congress and the oil workers unions; and allowed leadership
elections in these bodies.
Abubakar's Transition to Civilian Rule
Abacha, widely expected to succeed himself as a civilian president on October 1, 1998, died
suddenly of heart failure on June 8 of that year. He was replaced by Gen. Abdulsalami
Abubakar, who had been third in command until the arrest of Diya. The PRC, under new head
of state Abubakar, commuted the sentences of those accused in the alleged 1997 coup in
July 1998. In March 1999, Diya and 54 others accused or convicted of participation in coups
in 1990, 1995, and 1997 were released. Following the death of former head of state Abacha
in June, Nigeria released almost all known civilian political detainees, including the Ogoni 19.
M.K.O. Abiola, who still claimed his right to the presidency, also died in August of the year,
just before he was to be released from prison.
During both the Abacha and Abubakar eras, Nigeria's main decisionmaking organ was the
exclusively military Provisional Ruling Council (PRC) which governed by decree. The PRC
oversaw the 32-member federal executive council composed of civilians and military officers.
Pending the promulgation of the constitution written by the constitutional conference in 1995,
the government observed some provisions of the 1979 and 1989 constitutions. Neither
Abacha nor Abubakar lifted the decree suspending the 1979 constitution, and the 1989
constitution was not implemented. The judiciary's authority and independence was
significantly impaired during the Abacha era by the military regime's arrogation of judicial
power and prohibition of court review of its action. The court system continued to be
hampered by corruption and lack of resources after Abacha's death. In an attempt to alleviate
such problems, Abubakar's government implemented a civil service pay raise and other
In August 1998, the Abubakar government appointed the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) to conduct elections for local government councils, state legislatures and
governors, the national assembly, and president. NEC successfully held these elections on
December 5, 1998, January 9, 1999, February 20, and February 27, 1999, respectively. For
the local elections, a total of nine parties were granted provisional registration, with three
fulfilling the requirements to contest the following elections. These parties were the People's
Democratic Party (PDP), the All Peoples Party (APP), and the predominantly Yoruba Alliance
for Democracy (AD). Former military head of state Olusegun Obasanjo, freed from prison by
Abubakar, ran as a civilian candidate and won the presidential election. Irregularities marred
the vote, and the defeated candidate, Chief Olu Falae, challenged the electoral results and
Obasanjo's victory in court.
The PRC promulgated a new constitution based largely on the suspended 1979 constitution,
before the May 29, 1999 inauguration of the new civilian president. The constitution includes
provisions for a bicameral legislature, the National Assembly, consisting of a 360-member
House of Representatives and a 109-member Senate. The executive branch and the office of
president will retain strong federal powers. The legislature and judiciary, having suffered
years of neglect, must be rebuilt as institutions.
The Obasanjo Administration
The emergence of a democratic Nigeria in May 1999 ended 16 years of consecutive military
rule. Olusegun Obasanjo became the steward of a country suffering economic stagnation and
the deterioration of most of its democratic institutions. Obasanjo, a former general, was
admired for his stand against the Abacha dictatorship, his record of returning the federal
government to civilian rule in 1979, and his claim to represent all Nigerians regardless of
The new President took over a country that faced many problems, including a dysfunctional
bureaucracy, collapsed infrastructure, and a military that wanted a reward for returning quietly
to the barracks. The President moved quickly and retired hundreds of military officers who
held political positions, established a blue-ribbon panel to investigate human rights violations,
ordered the release of scores of persons held without charge, and rescinded a number of
questionable licenses and contracts let by the previous military regimes. The government also
moved to recover millions of dollars in funds secreted in overseas accounts.
Most civil society leaders and most Nigerians see a marked improvement in human rights and
democratic practice under Obasanjo. The press enjoys greater freedom than under previous
governments. As Nigeria works out representational democracy, there have been conflicts
between the Executive and Legislative branches over major appropriations and other
proposed legislation. A sign of federalism has been the growing visibility of state governors
and the inherent friction between Abuja and the various state capitols over resource
Problems of communal violence have confronted the Obasanjo government since its
inception. In May 1999 violence erupted in Kaduna State over the succession of an Emir
resulting in more than 100 deaths. In November 1999, the army destroyed the town of Odi,
Bayelsa State and killed scores of civilians in retaliation for the murder of 12 policemen by a
local gang. In Kaduna in February-May 2000 over 1,000 people died in rioting over the
introduction of criminal Shar'ia in the State. Hundreds of ethnic Hausa were killed in reprisal
attacks in southeastern Nigeria. In September 2001, over 2,000 people were killed in inter-
religious rioting in Jos. In October 2001, hundreds were killed and thousands displaced in
communal violence that spread across the Middle-Belt states of Benue, Taraba, and
Nasarawa. On October 1, 2001, President Obasanjo announced the formation of a National
Security Commission to address the issue of communal violence. Currently, ...............

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One of the high points in efforts to democratize Nigeria was the willingness of the
Obasanjo administration to investigate human rights abuses under past military
regimes. In 1999, exercising the powers conferred on the President by the
Tribunal of Inquiry Act, 1966 Cap. 447, it established the Human Rights Violation
Investigation Commission (HRVIC) under Justice Chukwudifu Oputa. Terms of
reference included:

1. Establishing or ascertaining the causes, nature and extent of human rights

violations or abuses in Nigeria between 1966 and 1999;

2. Identifying the person or persons, authorities, institutions that may be held

accountable for human rights abuses and determine the motives of the violations;

3. Determining whether such abuses or violations were deliberate state policies or

acts of state officials or acts of any political organisations, liberation movements
or other groups or individuals; and

4. Recommending measures which may be taken whether judicial, administrative,

legislative or institutional to redress the injustices of the past and prevent a
recurrence in the future.

The panel received thousands of petitions regarding assassinations, genocide,

torture and other abuses by security forces. A few petitions were related to inter-
communal violence. Other high profile petitions revolved around the question of
how Nigeria's ethnic nationalities want to coexist and be governed. However,
surviving pivots of the recent military past, Generals Abdulsalami Abubakar,
Ibrahim Babangida, and Muhammad Buhari refused to appear before the panel,
which has no arrest or prosecutory powers. Their attorneys argued in court that
under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) the National
Assembly is conferred with the power to make law with respect to matters
specifically mentioned in Section 4 (2) and 4 of the said constitution. They claim
that the tribunal decree creating the Oputa panel was originally promulgated in
the context of the suspension of the previous Constitution by the Army. At the
end of military regime in Nigeria in May 1999, therefore, the Tribunals of Inquiry
Decree 1966 No 41 was only an existing law within parameters defined by Section
315 of the 1999 constitution. Since no modifications were made to bring the said
Act into conformity with the 1999 Constitution as a law of the federation, its
validity was thrown into question. When it gets the final report, how the
government deals with this and some of the more troubling revelations made
before the panel by former head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI),
Brigadier-General Ibrahim Sabo (rtd.) will determine its place in history.

Unfortunately, while focusing on the past, sensitizing the public to human rights
issues and accountability, the current behavior of the military during internal
security operations in November 1999 at Odi, and in October 2001 at Zaki Biam,
Gbagi and other nearby villages during which the aggrieved Armored Brigade at
Yola unleashed retaliatory terror on civilian communities accused of harboring
civilians (and ex-servicemen) said to have ritually murdered their fellow soldiers
has raised eyebrows - including condemnation by "Human Rights Watch" - to
which the President's response was to rationalize the culture of vengeance.
Granted the killing, beheading and eye gouging of soldiers on official duty is
completely unacceptable and was extremely provocative. But the appropriate
response would have been to uphold law and order through proper investigation,
targetted arrests and prosecution of culprits in a court of law. Swept under the
carpet of political controversy was the more subtle issue of whether the incident
that led to the deaths of the soldiers in the first place was not a classic case of
command failure.

The Army has also been used for internal security duties in Kaduna, Jos,
Oshogbo, Ago-Iwoye, Lagos, Warri, Yenagoa and others. This emerging
relationship between the military, the executive and the populace via the flagrant
and repeated use of military power is dangerous - amplified as it is on one hand
by restiveness in the barracks about conditions of living, salaries and emoluments
and on the other by concern in certain parts of the country that ethnic militia
excesses which have resulted in horrendous bloodshed have not been addressed
firmly and fairly. Commentators from the core-North, for example, often
understandably express frustration and deep anger about the restraint shown in
deploying the Army during one or two orgees of ethnic blood-letting in the Lagos
area. At the same time soldiers who are left on the streets to perform internal
security duties for too long soon begin to settle into non-regimental routines for
extorting money from motorists.

The National Assembly, therefore, ought to pay more attention to military

welfare, make laws that guide the fair and consistent use of the military by the
executive for such purposes and address the problem of excessive use of force by
theater commanders which is often due to poor training, equipment, orientation
and command failure. There is a danger that civil society can be antagonized and
hyper-militarized, while professional military effectiveness is compromised, with
danger of ensuing rupture of the polity. Underlying contributing issues of poor
training and tactical leadership in the military have not been the focus of
sufficient public comment.

Other than some isolated cases, police brutality has not attracted serious official
attention either. Meanwhile, crime rate and insecurity have remained a very
serious problem. Despite government announcements of reform and expansion,
the Police even went on strike, a first in the history of the country, citing poor
working conditions. As noted previously, the government sacked its Police Chief
in response, and replaced him with a new Inspector General (Tafa Balogun)
whose curriculum vitae is as impressive as any I have seen. (For the first time in
history both the Inspector General of Police and the Chief of Army Staff are
holders of master degree qualifications).

Meanwhile civilian "vigilante" groups and ethnic militia like 'O'dua People's
Congress' (OPC) and 'Bakassi Boys' have emerged, allegedly to fill the police and
judicial vacuum. However, they have done much more than that, in some cases
fighting pitched battles with the Police, political opponents, and members of other
ethnic groups. Islamic "vigilante" groups have also been established in parts of
northern Nigeria to enforce new Sharia codes. There have been occasional
outbreaks of civil-military tension with the Army because Barracks are protected
by federal law and are thus regarded as "safe havens" for alcohol. Meanwhile
dangerous outbreaks of inter-communal violence have been recorded in several
states including Plateau, Bauchi, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Benue, Taraba, Delta,
Ogun and Lagos. The extent to which repeated incidents of ethnic and religious
tensions in civil society affect professional relationships within the military and
Police is unknown but calls for discrete monitoring by the government and
responsible self-censorship on the part of editorialists and public commentators.
Some of the tragic events in Jos and Kaduna, for example, brought dangerous
religious undercurrents to the fore - assuming public statements can be used as a
barometer. It was quite disturbing to read of public calls for redeployment of
Army Commanders and Police Commissioners merely on account of their
individual religious and ethnic backgrounds.
Nigeria's historical legacy of force and the choices she has made at key points in
time show that merely asking soldiers to go back to the Barracks without
addressing the profound structural issues discussed in this monograph simply will
not do. It also seems evident that a truly apolitical Military along western lines
may be an abstract concept when set against the realities on the ground and the
intensely political circumstances in which the military was born and nurtured from
colonial times. The challenge is to develop a model of civil-military relations that
is workable, unique to Nigeria and preserves the core capabilities of a real
military force without threatening the ability of the Nigerian people to be led by a
government that reflects its will. It is gratifying that efforts have been made to
develop a new Defence Policy but unfortunately the process has not been open
and public input has been minimal. One recalls the process by which South Africa
arrived at its National Defence Policy. On June 21st, 1995 a draft policy was
published by the Defence Minister with an open invitation to the legislature and
the public to comment. Political parties, NGOs, Defence Industry interest groups,
analysts, military officers and the public in general contributed. The ideas and
comments gleaned from this process of consultation with various stake-holders
were then incorporated in an updated draft dated October 27, 1995. This draft
was submitted to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD), which
debated key provisions and resubmitted it to the Defence Minister for
consideration. Yet another draft was released on April 22, 1996 incorporating
additional comments from the JSCD as well as the portfolio Committee on
Defence. This draft was then sent to the cabinet. The version (with minor edits)
approved by the Cabinet was then sent back to Parliament for final approval.

In the Federal Republic of Nigeria, early in 2001, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)
announced that a committee was being set up, charged by the Head of State with
putting together Nigeria's Defence Policy. This committee was reportedly headed
by Major General Enahoro. One must presume that the committee met and
completed its assignment because in an unrelated news story, the CDS
announced that the report would shortly be released. It was not. Instead, a
new panel headed by Major General Ogomudia, the new Chief of Army Staff, was
charged with the responsibility for reviewing the work of the first committee and
issuing a report on the report which would conceivably guide Government in
releasing a white paper.

No one knows exactly how this process is supposed to work. Very recently, the
Minister for Defence announced that the Defence Policy is still undergoing
review. Will the Nigerian people have any opportunity to make input into the
country's Defence Policy? Will the Senate and House of Representatives have the
opportunity to make input? It would be unwise to presume that the Nigerian
public is uninterested in contributing to the new policy which could shape the
Armed Forces for years to come. The business of the military is too serious to
leave to Generals alone.


It is not a secret that the Defence Sector has for many years been one of the
most corrupt in Nigeria. In March 2002, during a keynote address to participants
at the first MOD retreat in Kaduna the Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. T.Y. Danjuma,
said the sector "lacked transparency in the conduct of its affairs, as it was prone
to mismanagement and corrupt practices, especially among the top echelon of its
management." Indeed, early in the life of the administration, the permanent
secretary, Dr. Makanjuola, was arrested along with others for alleged fraud -
although the status of the case has become somewhat vague.
An anti-corruption commission has been created, anti-corruption legislation
passed, and some progress made in recovering huge sums expropriated by the
late General Sani Abacha - although terms of the alleged plea bargain have been

Some senior military officers have also been asked to refund monies
misappropriated from Cocoa Buffer Stock Funds. The government has also
released a white paper on Brigadier Oluwole Rotimi's commission, charged in
June 1999 to inquire into illegal acquisition of federal government land and
properties. But corruption remains a very serious - and ongoing - issue in

Judicial Issues

Under democratic rule, the national judiciary has supremacy over the military
judicial system. This check and balance and oversight was absent under military
rule. Ad hoc methods were used to implement Decree 105 (the guiding
document for military justice also known as the Armed Forces Act). However, all
of this should work well if stake-holders know what role each should play in the
process. Unfortunately, the required knowledge will take time to develop for the
military, political class and civil society.

For example, the jurisdictional relationship between the military and the rest of
civil society in terms of crime is an often ignored component of the civil-military
discourse. Recently, an application of this principle reared its ugly head in
Nigeria. A soldier on duty at 1 Division HQ in Kaduna, went to Kawo garage off
his base, and shot a Moslem cleric and at least six others dead. Controversy
erupted. Who has jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute the soldier? The military or
civil police? Under which law? Common, Sharia or Military? In which court?

Such a scenario should ordinarily be the subject of a Memorandum of

Understanding (MOU) amicably negotiated and signed between the Ministry of
Defence and the Ministry of Justice. In the United States, for example, if a soldier
kills anyone, soldier or civilian, on post, then the military has jurisdiction to
investigate and try the soldier. On the other hand, if a civilian kills on post, the
military in collaboration with the civil police investigate, while the civil police
prosecute in civil court. If a soldier goes to commit murder out of post, killing
either a soldier or civilian, the civil police have jurisdiction.

Having said that, there has been at least one instance in which the supremacy of
the civil court system and the constitution was used to reverse the judgment of a
previous military court martial. On July 16, 2001, the Court of Appeal in Lagos
set aside a prior 1986 conviction by a General Court Martial convened by the
Commander of the Lagos Garrison Command. It discharged and acquitted one Lt.
Col A. Akinwale who had been sentenced to a long jail term.


It has already been pointed out that the burden of history means it will take us
long to find an acceptable level of balanced civil -military relations.

The syndrome of "bloody civilians"

The historical background is compounded by the real perception among many

elements of the military that Nigerian civilians are not security conscious and
have limited expertise in areas of security and defence policy. Through this
prism, rightly or wrongly, many members of the national legislature and even civil
servants in the Ministry of Defence are viewed. This perceived real or apparent
lack of civilian capacity is a stumbling block to the democratization of the military
and is an issue that does need to be explored and addressed, along with the
question of knowledge of roles. Did the military during its period of political
stewardship in Nigeria contribute to it by jealously guarding what they considered
their own exclusive preserve? On the other hand, even if it had the capacity, has
civil society in Nigeria articulated its interests in the sphere of civil-military
relations? To some extent (other than a small minority) it has said in more ways
than one that it does not want military dictatorship. But beyond this fairly
rudimentary understanding, and the usual cacophony of sometimes uninformed
debates over the ethnic balance in the military, it seems to have no consensus or

To press the point home, let me borrow an anecdote presented by Eboe Hutchful
at a recent conference on civil-military relations in Latin America. "That week in
Washington, he had run into two visiting African parliamentarians. Both turned
out to be members of the oversight defense committee; one was a former
student. They had just approved their first defense budget, and the process was
thus: the Minister of Defense came to Congress, told the Parliament they had to
pass it, and they did. The Deputy Speaker said they did it that way because that
was the way it had always been done. The Speaker was left over from the last
regime; while the other parliamentarian was a former general. Another thing the
Minister of Defense did to was to take members of the oversight committee on a
tour of the barracks; the MPs were shocked at the decrepitude of the quarters."

The "retired military" question

A related question in Nigeria is whether retired military personnel (all of whom

are products of prior military regimes) share the same reported disdain for
alleged civilian ignorance of defence and security issues as active duty personnel.
Such a question is crucial because retired military personnel play an important
role in the political process and civilian government structure and cannot be said
to be ignorant of security and defence issues. Retired Generals are at the helm of
affairs as President and Defence Minister, National Security Adviser, Director of
State Security, Aso Rock Chief of Staff etc... and occupy high positions in the
affairs of political parties, the National Assembly leadership and certain legislative
committees. Furthermore, certain ethno-regional associations which are hard to
miss on the pages of newspapers as arbitrators of civil attitudes like Afenifere,
Ohaeneze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum etc. have key
military retirees in their leadership ranks. There is also the association of retired
army officers which has intervened quietly on occasion to mediate certain
sensitive matters such as pensions for qualifying ex-Biafran soldiers. A related
adhoc group is the small club of retired Inspectors-General of Police that is
reported to have recommended the recent dismissal of the last Inspector-General
of Police - a move that had seemed fairly obvious for some time to ordinary
citizens who have long struggled under the weight of personal insecurity.

Whether these retirees act as a bridge between civil and military/security

constituencies or merely as exclusive agents for their own agendas - in some
cases as agents provocateur - is going to be a key factor down the road in
determining the nature of civil-military relations in transitional Nigeria.

There are observers - like Father Hassan Kukah - who strongly feel that Nigeria is
not yet a democracy and that retired military personnel should stay away from
politics for at least ten years. Even the non-military politicians are predominantly
persons who cut their teeth and acquired wealth (with no visible means of
livelihood) during past military regimes and, therefore, retain obvious and not so
obvious loyalties.

The relationship between the retired military and the civilian society on one hand
and the active duty military on the other is important. In the early days of the
current transition, for example, there may have been concern (perhaps without
justification) that retired officers - with no official position - were influencing
personnel decisions within the active duty military. Furthermore, the
management style of official force managers is a key determinant of success in
any organizational transition, recognizing the inherent fears and tensions that go
with any kind of change. One management style issue that likely impacts civil-
military relations in Nigeria relates to the status of the President and the Defence
Minister as ex-soldiers in this civilian administration and the age and achievement
gap between them and the second tier of force managers. Are they
unconsciously acting out their roles as very senior military commanders
condescendingly interacting with very junior officers? Are they susceptible to the
temptation to think they understand all the problems of the military? Do they
project a passive-aggressive approach to the military driven by their own
frustrations with the serious decay that has occurred in the establishment since
they left? Does the current generation of active duty officers see itself as being
more militarily exposed than its retired forebears in policy making positions who
benefited from the accelerated promotions of post-independence Nigerianization,
wartime demands and politics? Does the military get the false impression that
the President, sometimes acts, perhaps unwittingly, as if he would rather not
relate with them in order not to tarnish his democratic credentials - even though
he readily "sends in the clowns" when there is crisis? Closely related to this is the
degree of direct control of the military by the President and the absence of
enforcement of constitutionally nuanced checks and balances between the
Presidency, the MOD and Parliament.